Thousands of NYSUT members and their supporters added lots of pink to the fall landscape during October's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks. Among them was Hilton social studies teacher Steven Sorensen, an eight-year Making Strides veteran who always brings along the girls' soccer team he coaches.
This year, 90 girls in specialty pink shirts powered the walk. His teams have collectively raised $45,000, he said. Every other year, Sorensen brings in a speaker from the American Cancer Society to meet with the soccer players and talk to them about what the ACS does with the money that is raised.
"I've also brought in alumni from the soccer program who've battled and survived breast cancer," said Sorensen, a member of the Hilton Central Schools Teachers Association.
Deborah Collier's involvement with Making Strides began in the 1980s. Knee surgery sidelined her from walking this year, but the Yonkers Federation of Teachers retiree sat at a table handing out shirts and information to walkers.
When the Making Strides walks started in Pleasantville, there were "just a few of us ... very few," she said.
"I have seen it go full-scale. There are more walkers, more organizations, more politicians involved. It has mushroomed into a gigantic, wonderful thing."
Her breast cancer advocacy will never retire, it appears. "Yesterday I was in the dentist's office and got the link so he could make a donation!" she said.
After so many years in the classroom, neither will her role in educating others. "My baby sister lives in Georgia. When she was 27 I pushed her to get a mammogram. Turns out she had cancer," Collier said. "It returned the next year, an aggressive form." Collier urged her sister to get reconstructive surgery following the mastectomy. That surgeon found an infection that had gone undetected, she said. "Having this knowledge has been very helpful."